Antonio Brown earns highest WR grade ever in win over Oakland
Sometimes it’s impressive just how spectacularly you can fail to cover Antonio Brown. I’m not suggesting the Pittsburgh Steelers don’t have other weapons, but as a defense if you’re going to focus your attention somewhere in the Steelers’ receiving corps, it should be Brown.
The Raiders however somehow conspired to let him go off for 17 receptions and 284 yards. They did however keep him out of the end zone, so … call it a tie?
Brown’s +8.8 grade against Oakland is the highest mark we have ever given a receiver for a single game, and he almost single-handedly kept the Steelers in this game and brought them the win. Brown and DeAngelo Williams alone combined for 537 yards from scrimmage, almost 100 yards more than the entire Raiders offense.
It’s difficult to even pin the blame on letting Brown go off on any one particular player. He had what would be excellent single-game production against more than one Raiders defensive back.
D.J Hayden surrendered eight catches to him on just nine targets for 119 yards, while David Amerson was beaten eight times for 159 yards, though he did at least notch a pick and there were four incomplete passes intended for Brown while he was in coverage.
What’s perhaps the worst aspect of the job the Raiders did against Brown is that he was still opening things up for other people despite torching them for 17 catches himself. TE Jesse James scored a touchdown in large part because multiple Oakland defenders were sucked up onto Brown’s shallow crosser in front of the goal line, allowing James to sneak behind the coverage into the back of the end zone.
As tends to happen with failures of this magnitude, the hits came all game long and Brown got Oakland again for arguably the biggest play of the game late. With under a minute remaining in a tied game, the Steelers threw the ball on a quick tunnel screen to Brown, who took off running with a pair of Raiders defensive backs sprawled on the turf.
As is perhaps symbolic of Oakland’s season in coverage, only an ageless Charles Woodson chasing him down from his free safety position was able to prevent Brown scoring and finishing the damage right then and there.
Woodson forced Brown out of bounds, but deep inside the red zone the play was enough to give the Steelers an easy kick to win.
About the only thing Brown did wrong all game was fumbling the ball on a punt return, and he more than made up for the error. Pittsburgh has players who can hurt you, but in today’s NFL it’s simply mind-blowing that you can somehow allow a team’s biggest threat to catch 17 passes for 284 yards, and still allow him to actually open things up for other players along the way.
Oakland’s offense deserved to win this game, and certain members of the defense did, but Charles Woodson aside this defense simply can’t cover without T.J. Carrie in the lineup.